SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 AT 9:00 AM EDT - WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service published Advance Notices announcing its plan to revise two parts of the agency’s regulations. The Forest Service seeks public comment on its work to improve outdated and inefficient regulations for locatable minerals and oil and gas resources on national forest lands.
“This is one of many efforts that our agency is undertaking to focus on our priority of regulatory reform,” said interim Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “Our goal is to make our processes as simple and efficient as possible while ensuring a sustainable environment for future generations.”
In fiscal year 2017, over $1.2 billion dollars’ worth of oil and gas were produced from National Forest System lands, resulting in payments to local, state and federal governments of approximately $145 million, creating significant value for many communities. Outdated regulations are still a barrier however. For example, there is a backlog of nearly 2,000 pending Expressions of Interest in leasing oil and gas on about 2 million acres. Updated regulations and procedures are needed to ensure the Forest Service and stakeholders have an efficient process to support local economies and protect and conserve valuable environmental resources.
Locatable minerals produced from National Forest System lands are important for medical and infrastructure development as well as cars and common household items, including appliances, smart phones, and computers. Forest Service economists estimate that the revenue generated from mining locatable minerals topped $1 billion in 2016 and supported more than 1,500 direct and 5,500 indirect jobs.
“We want to strengthen communities and provide jobs,” said Christiansen. “At the same time, we are committed to protecting water supplies, supporting aquatic and wildlife habitat, and ensuring a sustainable environment for future generations.”
The public has until October 15, 2018 to comment on two Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking published in the Federal Register. One notice addresses locatable minerals and the other oil and gas resources. Instructions about how to comment are included in the Federal Register notices: 36 CFR part 228 subpart A and 36 CFR part 228, subpart E.
For more information about USDA Forest Service, visit http://www.fs.fed.us.